St. Olaf College is fortunate to be richly endowed in land holdings. In addition to a 300-acre campus, the college owns nearly 700 acres of land adjacent to the campus. Most of this land was farmland rented out to local farmers.
The college, principally through the members of the Biology and the Environmental Studies Departments, has conducted extensive natural habitat restoration projects over the past 15 years on some of this farmland. Over 40,000 tree seedlings and nursery stock trees have been planted on approximately 90 acres in an effort to re-establish the dominant Big Woods forest type originally found in our area. Over 150 acres of native tall grass prairie has been reconstructed and 15 wetlands have been restored. A bluebird trail of 64 houses has been established through our woodlands and prairies. In addition to natural habitat restoration, a sustainable agriculture project has also been ongoing for over 10 years.
These projects already provide a wealth of learning experiences for our students, from casual observations to independent research, as well as aesthetic and recreational value for the entire campus community. This value will continue to increase as the habitats mature.
A walk across campus could take you through dense woods in beautiful Norway Valley, across open prairie, or to the shore of a wetland where you may observe waterfowl. Such exploration reveals the diversity and environmental enhancement of our land. St. Olaf is much more than classrooms, dormitories and parking lots. As you will see on this web page, our campus is a nature center.
*All photos on website taken on the St. Olaf Campus by: Dr. Gene Bakko, former Curator of Natural Lands & Professor Emeritus of Biology or St. Olaf graduate Alyssa Anderson (’06).